Thursday, January 24, 2008

Magic Realism at DVAC

A particularly good show at DVAC this month. "Figurative Fictions", three painters from up in Lansing (I think they teach at MSU).

The tendancy in US art prior to WWII was toward realism of various types. Genres like "The Ash Can School" prior to WWI and "American Scene" of the 1930s.

After WWII came pure abstraction via Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Color Field, but one saw the return of realism via Pop Art.

This show is maybe more an artistic version of the literary "Magical Realism" movment, maybe a bit lighter and open ended (though one see's a bit of surrealism in Benjamin Duke's work). Yet in the works of Robert McCann there is a vague theme of repression.

Robert McCann also has this clean, calm style, perhaps a bit Quattrocento, but also a bit like George Tooker.
(Inventing the Wheel, Paul McCann)

Benjamin Duke has a more expresionist, painterly approach with these tableaus, building the image with expressive brush storkes and with the dynamic composition.
(Actant #2, Benjamin Duke)

There was also the work of Teresa Dunn, who had a similar technique as Duke, but perhaps less surreal. Dunn and Duke remind me a bit of Eric Fischl's work.

All of these artists' subject matter is open to interpretation. Something is happening but what that somehting is is not obvious, so the work is open ended: one brings ones own interpretation to the narrative.

To see the full set of paintings shown follow the link to DVAC's Online Gallery.
Online is nice, but to fully experience the work, which is quite large in some cases, one must visit the gallery in real time: BYOB (bring your own body)

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